Update: Council leaders selected despite controversy

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Shawn Maclauchlan

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond city council elected a president and vice president Monday night, but not before some controversy.

Council member Marty Jewell asked for an investigation into what he calls a sexual assault at City Hall.

Jewell suggested council members should have the inspector general investigate and said it was irresponsible to pick new leaders with this situation hanging over their heads.

Councilman Marty Jewell is never one to stay quiet when something is on his mind. He asked his colleagues to wait before casting a vote for president and vice president of the city council.

"This is a hugely complex but important issue," Jewell said. "Workforce conduct is extremely important in any organization and it should never have taken nine months."

Jewell handed out emails, he said, to prove a cover up at City Hall. He says they are proof of unprofessional behavior between key council staffers.

The emails allege that the top aide for Bruce Tyler accused the top aid for city council president Kathy Graziano of inappropriate workplace behavior,

Jewell says the incident happened in April and he says taking a vote now, while the issue is still unresolved is irresponsible.

The young lady is only 26 years old. First job out of college. She's scared to death with these powerful people around her," Jewell said. "Nobody should have to feel intimidated about that. Yes there might have been moves she could have taken to bring this matter to conclusion soon, but she didn't know which way to turn."

Jewell's motion for an investigation failed by a 5-3 vote. A few council members said their vote for no council investigation does not mean the matter is over.

New elected council president Graziano agreed, calling this a human resources matter.

"Allegations were made, that those allegations were forwarded to the proper agencies. That there was at that time, no written complaint," she said.

"I'm very sorry we discussed this in an open meeting. Personnel issues should be confidential," she said. "At least until there's an investigation, and a determination."

Graziano was re-elected president by a 5-3 vote. Hardly a mandate, and nowhere near the majority vote she received just two years.  Ellen Robertson was re-elected vice president by a 8-0 vote. Councilman Doug Conner did not attend the meeting.

The terms for council president and vice president last two years and will expire in the election year 2012. That's when every council seat and even the mayor's post is up for re-election.

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